Leadership in Conflict and War: The Transatlantic Intelligence Relationship

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To commemorate the 50th anniversary of Winston Churchill’s death and the seventy-fifth anniversary of his ‘finest hour’ in 1940 when he became Prime Minister, a distinguished panel of speakers will examine his legacy of leadership in conflict and war, focussing specifically on the transatlantic intelligence relationship.

The tradition of intelligence-sharing between the UK and the United States dates back to the Western Front when, in the latter stages of the First World War, the intelligence staffs of the British and American Expeditionary Forces began sharing information on the enemy. Intelligence exchanges were significant by 1941 and, at the conclusion of the Second World War, Winston Churchill used a phrase to describe the multi-level co-operation across the Atlantic which remains in use today: the special relationship.

The intelligence-sharing aspect of the relationship has flourished, although its usefulness has been periodically questioned. It survived the Cold War and reached new heights of urgency after the attacks on New York and Washington on 11 September 2001. Currently, the global surveillance disclosures by Edward Snowden has shown that intelligence sharing activities between the UK and the United States are rapidly shifting into the digital realm of the internet.

In this discussion, panellists will reflect on Churchill’s contribution to the transatlantic intelligence relationship and its enduring relevance today.

Confirmed contributors include:

Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG OBE, former Chief of the UK Secret Intelligence Service

Ambassador John D. Negroponte, former US Director of National Intelligence

Professor Sir David Omand GCB, former UK Security and Intelligence Co-ordinator and Vice President RUSI Professor

Professor Philip C. Bobbitt, Herbert Wechsler Professor of Federal Jurisprudence and Director, Center for National Security, Columbia University, US

Gill Bennett OBE MA, former Chief Historian, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and Associate Fellow, RUSI

Professor Michael Clarke, Director General, RUSI


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